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Sweeney Bill to Encourage State Agencies to Purchase Goods and Services from Central Nonprofit Agency Clears Committee

Trenton – In an effort to expand upon previous goals of inclusivity for those with special needs, the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee today passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney which would require state agencies and political subdivisions to make a good-faith effort to purchase 5% of goods and services through the Central Nonprofit Agency.

The bill, S-994, advances the goals established by the “Rehabilitation Facilities Set Aside Act” and its implementing regulations to assist in the productive employment of individuals with special needs. The Central Nonprofit Agency was established through this act.

“For those with disabilities, finding employment is tougher than it is for other individuals, and it is imperative that we support businesses that actively employ them,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “The Central Nonprofit Agency employs individuals with disabilities, giving them a chance at employment that they may not have otherwise received. This bill will ensure that state agencies are doing their best to support a nonprofit that employs those with disabilities, promoting inclusivity within the workforce.”

“While unemployment is typically significantly higher for people with disabilities, it has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steven Cook, executive director of the Arc Mercer. “Senator Sweeney’s legislation S-994 furthers the state’s objective; creating jobs through the requirement that government purchases utilize employees with disabilities. His bill would increase the government requirement from 3% to a goal of 5% of government purchases be made using the program. Statewide, the set-aside program employs nearly 1,500 people with disabilities, at an average wage of over $12 per hour. This legislation would help grow the program with the possibility of adding over 500 additional jobs for those who need it most.”

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0.